When it first became politically trendy to back passage of ‘hate-crime’ legislation, I privately thought it a bad idea, while understanding completely why it was an appealing notion, especially for political and social entities which presumed to act on behalf of those threatened by weaponized hate. The fear in such communities was real, every bit as real as the threats, the vandalism, the lynch mobs, and disenfranchisement. It would take a politician with balls of brass to stand up before a group who justifiably were frightened by all that, and discount those fears. It was the easy way out for politicians, the media and social organizations to portray hate crime legislation as a good and discount those doubts held by those of us with inclinations toward the philosophical. A crime was a crime: there were already laws on the books dealing with vandalism, murder, arson and so on. A motivation for committing a crime ought to be of interest only in establishing the guilt of the perpetrator, not for piling on additional penalties. We do not have windows to peer accurately into the souls of others. Essentially, classifying a crime as a ‘hate crime’ was punishing the thought, over and above the actual crime itself. I didn’t think it was a good idea then, and still don’t think so – especially given the overwhelming numbers of so-called “hate crimes” which turn out to be either deliberate hoaxes, or the deeply imaginative letting their imaginations run away from them.

I feel the same way about hate crime’s dubious cousin – so-called hate speech, which of late seems to be classified lately as anything which the bien-pensant in academia, the media, or politics don’t wish to hear. Early on, the concept seemed to be that hate speech was the stuff of the KKK and the Nazis campaign against racial and religious minorities and encouraging the excision and/or destruction of those minorities from the human race by whatever means. Which was not just bad, it was also – in the words of my mother, one of the most militantly tolerant women on the face of the earth – rude. However, of late, the definition of hate-speech has become so loose as to be useless; a pity, as it once was a shorthand for the genuinely unacceptable in public discourse.

And that is not the worst, although the double standard when it comes to defining what is acceptable is galling to conservatives and moderates: why should nasty, bigoted racists like David Duke be un-personed, when a nasty, bigoted racist like Louis Farrakhan be an honored guest in the halls of the bien-pensant? Why is conservative speech on college campuses condemned as “violence” while violence perpetuated by far-leftists is excused as “free speech”? At this point, we know damned well why – and that is one of the reasons that the media, political, and academic members of the Ruling Class are hemorrhaging trust and credit with at least half the country.

The most troubling recent development on the hate-crime/hate speech front, though, is the concerted and organized effort to cut off organizations accused of having committed so-called “hate speech” (often on very thin grounds) not just from the popular social media outlets, but to pressure credit card and payment processing companies into denying their services. We’ve already seen this done to individuals – now it is an open campaign to economically punish the speech that the current Ruling Class doesn’t want to hear. Discuss our options for routing around this new insult to common sense and decency.

That useful concept (thank you, the French language for putting it so succinctly!) is defined “as an offense that violates the dignity of a ruler” or “an attack on any custom, institution, belief, etc., held sacred or revered by numbers of people.”Well, it appears that our very dear current occupant of the White House is certainly held sacred by a substantial percentage of our fellow citizens. How else to account for the perfectly earsplitting howling from Missouri Democrats and the usual suspects over a rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask to yuck it up before the crowd – most of whom seem to be laughing their heads off. All but the desperately sensitive, who breathlessly insisted that it was just like a KKK rally, practically. The rodeo clown’s name apparently is Tuffy Gessling; his supporters, and those who, as a matter of fact, support the rights of a free citizen to mock authority figures of every color and persuasion, have set up a Facebook page. He’s also been invited by a Texas congressman to come and perform the skit at a rodeo in Texas.

Never mind that sitting presidents long before this one have been ridiculed, mocked, hung in effigy and otherwise made fun of by one and all and in all sorts of venues. Such ridicule is usually defended as being a matter of free speech, man! And so it is. Occasionally distasteful, sometimes unfair, and always infuriating to partisans of the one towards whom it is directed. But there it is; either we have the freedom to ridicule the elected head of state of either party, or we have a monarch whose dignity demands that we peasants hold our tongue … lest we be banned from performing or doing our jobs, or else get investigated by the Secret Service and/or the FBI at the request of the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP … who at the very least seem to be a little vague on the whole freedom of speech concept. (Hint, people – freedom of speech does not mean that you are free from being offended.)

I wonder if it’s the preference cascade beginning; quietly and without much fanfare at first, ordinary people are beginning to openly mock Obama. There was a story about a country fair where contestants were throwing darts at a picture of him – the picture taken down and a hasty apology made … but people were participating gleefully, just as they were laughing at the rodeo clown in the Obama mask. I have heard mention in certain right-of-center blog comment threads of a ‘pin-the-tail-on-Obama’ game. How much of this mockery is bubbling under and breaking out at county fairs, over a late summer where the job situation is not getting any better, the cost of groceries is creeping up, and the smoke and fallout from various fires – like Benghazi, Fast-n-Furious, and the IRS-facilitated abuse of political opponents grows thicker? Could it be that parties like … oh, I don’t know, the head of the Missouri NAACP and the leadership cadre of the Democrat Party and the old news media (just to mention a few) are surprised and disconcerted to discover that the current president is not worshipped and glorified universally? Has it come as a complete surprise to those luminaries that people living from slender paycheck to paycheck, or facing cutbacks and layoffs might very well resent the heck out of a president ostentatiously going to Martha’s Vineyard (the playground of the 1%) for his fifth vacation of the year after not doing very much in particular to address those problems?

Later on this month, Mad Magazine’s new issue is lampooning Obama for the various electronic eavesdropping programs. I can hardly wait. Let the ridicule begin, loud and long. It’s the American way. We don’t do lese-majeste here.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.com)